Spring time at Coon Hollow Farm

Spring time at Coon Hollow Farm
Our Olde English "Babydoll" Sheep and their lambs

Friday, August 29, 2014

It's all in the feeders!

I truly believe a teacher can always learn from a student, your mind should always be open to everything. This is true for me as well, this year I have had the pleasure of mentoring Kisha who I have mentioned. She actually turned me on and gifted me with one of these amazing top feeders.

They actually have a floating system that disallows bees to drown in them. I have always shied away from top feeders for this very reason. This system is sold by Brushy Mountain Bee and is amazing!

A close up of just how safe these really are!


They fit snuggly on top and have space in the center for them to come up through to get the sugar water safely. We then place the screen top over it. This also allows for refilling with out the bees being able to react.

This is a picture of the first one that Kisha gifted me with, notice the center opening, that is where the bees come up through. These feeders have made a tremendous difference in the management and the success of our bees this year!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Honeybees...The honeybees

The honeybees are underway! Busy to and fro, flying in, flying out. Visiting all the wild flowers. Neighbors are reporting seeing them at their flowers.

This weekend we did mite treatments on the girls. We use organic means to treat the "girls". In this case powdered sugar! The bees looked like little ghost. The powdered sugar coats the bees. The varroa mites have suction cup like feet and when they go to move they slip off and fall to their deaths.

Honey and beeswax were also harvested. The beeswax will be put outside to allow the girls to pick it clean. It is by far the best way to clean it up!

Frames were put into the extractor and we got quite a few pounds! The big harvest will be in a few weeks. They haven't quite capped it all yet. These girls are keeping me busy busy!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Using the time proven Hand Carder

These are Hand Carders, a tool that was used in the Colonial times and probably even earlier to brush wool and fibers to prepare for spinning into yarn. These Tim bought me some time ago and carved our farm name into them.

Here I am using some lavender dyed suri alpaca locks from our boy, Garth. Laying the fiber length wise across the teeth of the comb.

Here is a closer look at the teeth of the comb.

Of course I was taking the pictures so both my hands aren't in place. Turning the combs in the opposite direction, holding one up and one down, begin to comb the fiber until the strands are all aligned in the same direction.

Brush and brush and brush...

and brush and brush and brush...

until the fibers are aligned like little soldiers! Now placing your carders together like little book ends with some of the fibers running off...

bring the carders together and begin to brush one in the upward direction.

until all the fibers are transferred off onto one carder...

taking both your fingers like little scissors on each side, begin to roll the fiber back and off the carder until...

you have your rolag, or as we call it at the historical home, "A wooly caterpillar"!

And here you are, a rolag ready to be spun. I am actually going to use this for and over casting onto some wool I have spun to give a brushy look and texture. Nothing like time proven tools that our fore mothers used!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July's "Farm Friend" of the month


This farm friend is a bit different this month. I was recently asked why our farm was named Coon Hollow Farm, and am often asked that same question.  The answer is the old tree that sits up on a hill on the farm. Sadly it was a victim of hurricane "Sandy" a few years back. Back when we rehabilitated raccoons on the property, this tree was often the home of many mama raccoons who would raise their young in this tree. It taught us how they fed them, interacted with them and gave us a wonderful view of their natural world. We called this tree "Coon Hollow", so when we became a farm it was easy to name it after this mighty tree that served so well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What do honeybees do when they are hot?

What do honeybees do when they get hot you asked? They "beard"!! Some will actually come out of the hive and try to cool down. We have had two days of rain and extreme humid conditions here and even the honeybees are hot!!!

This is Kisha's hive and they were trying to get cool as well. All the hives were doing this this evening. My goodness is it hot!!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Permaculture you ask...

 Permaculture, what is it? It's all the rage lately, but most don't even know what it is! The definition is also broad because it encompasses a lot of things. So I suggest if you are wondering, look it up and read the many interpretations. We installed ours with the advice of a very wise young man named Mike who is the Permaculture guru. It was with this advice, we went forward because of our chickens and erosion.
 
 In the top picture, we have a small hill in our backyard. We found fencing and poles that we had about. This area was mostly prepared by the chickens. The area to the right is their "swale". To the right, this is were they will take their dirt baths and allow rain water to settle without running down the hill and eroding.
 
The plants are installed to create a barrier for the erosion. Many different plants that have a purpose for use...
Anise Hyssop and Apple Mint for teas...

 Feverfew and Comfrey for healing...

Blueberry bushes, three total, for what else? Blueberry Cobbler, yummmmm...

 and Peppermint. All the plants also have great root systems to hold back the soil. This will help the area become established. We will also be able to dump the straw from the chicken coop with in the area to create a mulch bed. The plants will help the honeybees and other pollinators. This acts as a multi purpose barrier with many use able plants with benefits!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Have you ever had that feeling???

Have you ever had the feeling someone was following you? Well around here it is about 25 someone's! Tim was bringing a new bag of chicken feed up to the greenhouse, and he was like the pied piper! This happens a lot around here!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Making Comfrey Salve

One of my favorite plants to see coming up in the Spring is Comfrey! By the time winter is over I am about out of it and everyone else that swears by it too! This picture is what Comfrey looks like after a rain shower!
This year one plant netted the biggest leaves I have ever seen! Mind you I have Comfrey planted all over our property! The chickens especially love it so there is some out of their way behind the fenced garden. To make the salve, you have to pick and rinse off the leaves and allow to dry for a day.
This recipe was gifted to me by my friend Raye, but I have tweaked it here and there over the years. Olive oil is added and heated for some time and then allowed to sit to draw out the healing properties. I usually let sit up to two days.

The Comfrey is then strained, in this case with my honey strainer! The Comfrey is not waisted, it is placed in our compost bin.

After the tincture is drained, our bees own beeswax is added slowly until I get the proper consistency, adding some other ingredients as well.

When the salve is perfect, it is added to tin containers, tops added...

Labels are added and they are ready for healing!!!





Monday, June 30, 2014

June's Farm Friend of the Month

I almost forgot about "Farm Friend of the Month". So as I was thinking, what would our little farm be like without new lambs? The picture above is "Lily's" little ewe lamb. She always casts off a beautiful lamb and she didn't disappoint this year. The "Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown" sheep is a sweet, gentle breed that area a joy to have around. To learn more about them visit this website, the original, http://www.oldeenglishbabydollregistry.com/

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The chicks first outing...

 The chicks are growing almost over night! Today we decided to allow them to venture out into the small run that our overflow coop has. There was much trepidation in the beginning. It's a big world out there!
 A few just weren't having it! They looked from above, stood on the ramp and even went back inside...
...but for the few brave it was an adventure! Dirt under the toes, scratching was done for the first time and one even dug into the grown and stretched out her wing in a relaxed and very chicken way!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bee Inspections-on the State level!!!

Today we had our State Inspections with our State Entomologist, Mark Creighton. I have been sick for the past two days so he rustled me out of bed at 2:00 p.m., yes that's what I said! I had slept for 16 hours almost straight so I was well rested. We actually had an appointment for Wednesday, so I was a bit surprised to see him. I suffered through, with my head feeling like it was going to explode and got it done.
Needless to say we found some interesting things, I learned a lot and gained a great respect for a man with this much knowledge.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The chicks are growing!!!

The chicks are growing so fast!!! They came here to live on Coon Hollow Farm three weeks ago. It seems like we have two roosters and seven hens. They are beginning to roost when they sleep just like big chickens! The two in the back are different breeds from the rest, can't wait to see what they turn out to be!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Early Harvest gifts from the Honeybees!!!

 Our honeybees have done an exceptional job this year! They are busy busy busy! I have already harvested bee pollen. In this picture, the left pollen is lighter and the pollen on the right is more orange in color. The difference in what the bees are collecting as far as available pollen sources.
 I have been able to bottle some and it is available for purchase. Great for allergies among other ailments too!

We have also harvested some honey that is light but very thick and yummy! These girls are doing so well this year. Connecticut has had a perfect Spring which has helped them thrive.

Friday, June 6, 2014

It just takes one!!!


 The last hive inspection we did, netted just, one tiny little varroa mite on a drone. The first time I ever saw one sent me into a freak out frenzy but now that I know what to do I am okay with that! The most organic way to take care of this without chemicals.
The key is to sprinkle confectionery sugar on them the same day for about 5 weeks. This coats their bodies with the powdered sugar so the mite cannot cling on.
We have the State Bee Inspector coming next week to look at the hives so we will get some test done and hopefully learn a few things about our hives.